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Seeking Shelter from Russia’s Winter with Absurd Skateboards

Story by Kirill Korobkov
Photography by Barabakaa

Two things Russia and Canada have in common are their vast lands and cold winters. Russia is the largest country in the world with Canada trailing shortly behind it. I don’t think I need to explain the feeling or what it means for skateboarding when winter begins in late October either. For the majority of Russian skateboarders, trips to warm countries with sunny coasts aren’t an option so the role of indoor facilities is very important to us.

So, where do we retreat to in the winter? The range of locations is really random. I’ve seen it all. People have built skateparks in shopping malls, garages and traditional Russian wooden houses. They’ve built mini ramps in small studio apartments and I’ve seen skaters take over abandoned factories, airplane hangars and in one case, a military base. Bigger cities like Moscow and St. Petersburg have more options for skateboarders but with that comes its own issues - higher rent, maintenance fees and and the general expenses associated with larger cities. Indoor skateparks usually don’t survive more than a few months because as soon as winter’s over, everyone is back out in the streets and the owners can’t pay rent.

Due to the current economic situation in Russia, an indoor skatepark can’t survive as a commercial project and the government isn’t rushing to support our young, controversial culture. Currently, Moscow’s only public indoor skatepark is run by the city’s sports department and it looks like it was built in the 90s. You have to take a blood and piss test to skate it so it shouldn’t come as a surprise that most locals skip that option all together. When it comes to the most brutal option for skateboarding on a winter day - we thank the Soviet Union. They loved wide streets so they built tons of underground tunnels to make it possible for people to cross from one side to the other. It’s usually slightly damp and just as cold as it is above ground but for those living in smaller cities, these walkways are the only place to find dry flatground.

The fact that we experience seasonal change makes us appreciate the warm, sunny days even more. There’s nothing quite like that first outdoor session when the sun is out and the snow begins to melt. No matter how long the winter is, there’s always spring at the end and it feels like a new lease on life each time.

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These photos were shot during Absurd Skateboards’ trip to the ‘Skate House’ in Nikola-Lenivets - a unique ‘wonderland’ nature reserve located 200km outside of Moscow that hosts a mix of artist workshops, festivals and art sculptures.

The ‘Skate House’ is an installation created by the Alycha Art Group in conjunction with Tcekh Skateparks to represents the synthesis of a countryside cottage and a skate spot.

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